NHL Playoffs 2014: Round 2 Preview – Los Angeles Kings vs Anaheim Ducks

 

SERIES BEGINS: 3rd May

PUCK DROP: 20:00 ET (01:00 GMT)

BY THE NUMBERS

LOS ANGELES ANAHEIM
WON LAST ROUND IN…  7 games 6 games
GOALS FOR/AGAINST (DIFFERENTIAL)

 

 26 / 22

(+4)

20 / 18

(+2)

TOP POINT SCORER

 

 

10 PTS

(A. KOPITAR)

 

 7 PTS

(R. GETZLAF &

C. PERRY)

TOP GOAL SCORER

 

 

 4 G

(A. KOPITAR &

J. WILLIAMS)

3 G

(R. GETZLAF &

N. BONINO)

MOST TOI/G

 

 26:31

(D. DOUGHTY)

24:47

(F. BEAUCHEMIN)

TOTAL 5v5 SV%  90.3% 90.4%

 

LOS ANGELES ROUND 1 LOWDOWN

T

he Kings’ 1st Round series against the San Jose Sharks was truly one for the ages.  Finding themselves on the brink of elimination as early as Game 4, they somehow managed to fight back to take the series, becoming just the 4th team in NHL history to complete the comeback from a 3-0 deficit.

After being thoroughly dominated in games 1 and 2 (they were outscored by a total of 13-5) they showed something in game 3, falling 4-3 in a tight overtime game at home, and that was clearly the turning point in the series.  In the remaining 4 games, they scored 18 goals and finished the first round as one of the top scoring teams in the league – and remember, this is the Kings we’re talking about!

The team will need goaltending more like that which they received during the regular season (93.6% save percentage at ES), and they relied significantly upon their powerplay which improved from around a 15% success rate to 25% in the playoffs.  The Kings do have a tendency to dominate offensively more in the postseason, making them a feared team for any opponent.

LOS ANGELES PLAYER TO WATCH

Anze Kopitar is rolling so far in the playoffs.  One of the league leaders in points, the Selke Trophy nominee has had an outstanding season and looks to be ready to help LA make a drive deep into the postseason.

ANAHEIM DUCKS ROUND 1 LOWDOWN

Anaheim has had a great season overall, finishing atop the Western Conference and very nearly the entire league.  However, among stat-heads (like myself), their success was widely regarded as something of a mirage.  They received both goaltending and shooting success at well above league-average rates, and were a middle-of-the-pack possession team.

Sure, they do have talented goaltenders and elite forwards, but so do several teams that are regarded as better and more well-rounded, and they didn’t see the kind of success that Anaheim did.

That continued into the first round of the playoffs.  Despite being outplayed at 5v5 by Dallas, Anaheim somehow found themselves on the positive side of the ledger score-wise.  Some will say that is the only statistic that matters, and in the short-term yes, but for prolonged success strong possession play is regarded as the tried-and-true method.

Indeed, Anaheim did drop 2 games to Dallas due in large part to their lack of dominance at even-strength, and their reliance on Frederik Andersen to steal some games.

This is an Anaheim team with a lot of talent – Getzlaf, Perry, Fowler, Bonino, Selanne, Koivu, Cogliano, Beauchemin, Lindholm, Andersen, Hiller etc. – so you can never count them out, but against a tough-as-nails, puck-possession monster like LA, they will have to sharpen up.

ANAHEIM DUCKS PLAYER TO WATCH

Ryan Getzlaf may have dominated in the first round, but I have a feeling that Corey Perry will be the one to watch in this series.  Despite co-leading the team with 7 points, he was relatively quiet, at least in comparison to his linemate and captain, and is due for a goal-scoring outburst.  It may be tough against the stingy Kings’ defensive style, but Perry’s aggravating style may help get them off their game.

PREDICTION

I believe Anaheim will put up a decent-enough fight – as mentioned, they have a lot of talent – but they lack the systems-play, experience and dominant two-way play of a team like the Kings.  I would be shocked if LA don’t take this series.  I am torn between saying 5 or 6 games… I’ll say Kings in 6.

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